January 7, 2021

Trust is a Life Skill

By Glenn

Not all life skills are the same.  Some are more important than others.  One essential skill is learning to tell the difference between fact and fiction. We have to learn who is telling the truth and who is lying to us.

If we don’t learn this skill, life can become pretty miserable.

This week I had to confront reality.  I had to face the facts or suffer the consequences.  I had to trust a doctor whom I only met in July.  He told me the truth. Should I trust him?

This summer, while teaching online, I fainted.  It was the second time that I had lost consciousness for no apparent reason.

My normal doctor, whom I’ve known for about 20 years, scheduled an MRI and sent me to a cardiologist.  The MRIs were nothing new for me.  They are loud and boring.  

The cardiologist was.  He seemed like a nice young man.  (Now that I am over 50, I can say that.)  This stranger asked me to wear an overnight heart monitor. 

This too was pretty easy.  I had already worn a similar device for sleep apnea. The halter found nothing.

The next step was an implanted chip to provide continuous monitoring for up to five years.  I asked the doctor if this were the Bill Gates model. He said that he didn’t know but would find out.  My sarcasm obviously failed. 

The implanted chip was a good choice.  It quickly discovered that about once per month my heart slows and pauses for 5-6 seconds.  The doctor is concerned that these episodes could happen while driving or another activity.

Think about it.  Once per month my heart slows and pauses for 5-6 seconds.  No doctor listening to my heart could have found it.  Even the chances of a twenty-four hour monitor finding the pause would be small.  I don’t understand how the chip worked, but it did.

The next step is a pacemaker.  That is a pretty big step, but I will follow my doctor’s advice.  He told me that it could save my life or someone near me.  If one of these episodes happened while driving, the results could be catastrophic.


At each step of the way I had to test my skills as an adult.  Were these experts lying to me or telling me the truth?   Certainly there is a financial gain related to the procedure?  Couldn’t they just recalibrate the results?  Couldn’t they find those lost five seconds?

I decided to face reality.  I’m not a medical doctor or expert.  Part of growing up is learning to tell the difference between fact and fiction, learning who to trust.   It is a life or death skill.

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